Wednesday afternoon President Obama addressed students across the country in his 3rd annual back to school speech.
His message encouraged students to discover their passions, work hard, take risks, and develop their skills.
The video and transcript of his speech are below.
Back to School Speech
Back to School Speech Transcript
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Everybody, please have a seat. Well, Madam President, that was an outstanding introduction. (Laughter.) We are so proud of Donae for representing this school so well.
And in addition, I also want to acknowledge your outstanding principal, who has been here for 20 years -- first as a teacher, now as an outstanding principal -- Anita Berger. Please give her a big round of applause. (Applause.) I want to acknowledge, as well, Mayor Gray is here -- the mayor of Washington, D.C. is here. Please give him a big round of applause. (Applause.) And I also want to thank somebody who is going to go down in history as one of the finest Secretaries of Education that we’ve ever had -- Arne Duncan is here. (Applause.)
Now, it is great to be here at Benjamin Banneker High School, one of the best high schools not only in Washington, D.C., but one of the best high schools in the country. (Applause.) But we’ve also got students tuning in from all across America. And so I want to welcome you all to the new school year, although I know that many of you already have been in school for a while. I know that here at Banneker, you’ve been back at school for a few weeks now. So everything is starting to settle in, just like for all your peers all across the country. The fall sports season is underway. Musicals and marching band routines are starting to shape up, I believe. And your first big tests and projects are probably just around the corner.
I know that you’ve also got a great deal going on outside of school. Your circle of friends might be changing a little bit. Issues that used to stay confined to hallways or locker rooms are now finding their way onto Facebook and Twitter. (Laughter.) Some of your families might also be feeling the strain of the economy. As many of you know, we’re going through one of the toughest economic times that we’ve gone through in our lifetime -- in my lifetime. Your lifetime hasn’t been that long. And so, as a consequence, you might have to pick up an after-school job to help out your family, or maybe you’re babysitting for a younger sibling because mom or dad is working an extra shift.
So all of you have a lot on your plates. You guys are growing up faster and interacting with a wider world in a way that old folks like me, frankly, just didn’t have to. So today, I don’t want to be just another adult who stands up and lectures you like you’re just kids -- because you’re not just kids. You’re this country’s future. You’re young leaders. And whether we fall behind or race ahead as a nation is going to depend in large part on you. So I want to talk to you a little bit about meeting that responsibility.
Protecting Against Voter Fraud
"The right to vote in free and fair elections is one of the fundamental rights underlying the democratic principles of the American republic.
Everyone who is eligible to vote should be able to do so, but at the same time, such votes should not be diminished or stolen by fraudulently cast ballots or votes by ineligible individuals such as illegal aliens.
* What problems exist in the voter registration and election process today?
* What threat does voter fraud pose to the integrity of voter registration and elections?
* Are federal laws such as the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act
sufficient to protect voting rights?
* What steps can be taken to improve the security of our elections by election officials, legislators,
average citizens, and grassroots organizations?
Discussing these issues are a journalist who has written extensively about voter fraud cases, a grassroots activist who has worked to correct election problems at the local level, and a former FEC Commissioner and Justice Department lawyer who has enforced federal voting rights laws."
Parents are growing concerned about Washington’s latest power grab.
National education standards give unelected bureaucrats in Washington the power to choose what children learn instead of parents and local leaders.
According to the Heritage Foundation:
“Americans understand that some distant, unelected bureaucrat in Washington is neither able nor empowered by the Constitution to dictate state education policy. By using federalism as a guiding principle in education – allowing states to set standards and determine how education dollars are spent – children’s needs will best be served, and educational opportunity will flourish.
“Unfortunately, many states have succumbed to pressure to adopt national academic standards. It has happened quietly, threatening local control of education.”
Your tax dollars pay for the public education system. Please "like" this post if you believe that schools should be more accountable to parents, and local and state leaders, not the federal government.
"Federal policymakers should provide states with increased flexibility and freedom from red tape to make state leaders more accountable to parents and taxpayers. States should also strengthen standards, increase transparency about school performance, and allow parents to act on that information by choosing their children’s schools." Heritage.org
Why the Cookie Cutter Approach to Education Doesn't Work
Each child is an original! No two are alike. As parents, we carefully plan and prepare to help each child. We recognize that even siblings in the same family come with unique interests and aptitudes, needs and abilities.
So we seek unique learning opportunities to meet the needs of our children.
We may enlist the help of teachers, friends, clergy, coaches and others, but we have the primary responsibility.
With all our hearts we want to help our children prepare to live happy, successful lives of accomplishment and service.
No one knows better than you what your child needs. Others can help you, but you are the one with the love and experience to tailor experiences to meet the needs of those you love.
Until recently, no one questioned the unique role of parents in the lives of their children. But all that is changing now. Government bureaucrats, many of whom have never had children of their own, believe they know best, and can mandate how parents raise their children. Educators in training are taught in university classes that they know better than parents about what children should learn.
Listen to what one illustrious educator has to say:
“Every child in America entering school at the age of 5 is mentally ill because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our founding fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It’s up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well — by creating the international child of the future” ~Chester M. Pierce, Professor of education and psychiatry at Harvard
According to my friend who is finishing a Ph.D. in Education at a prestigious university, that attitude is prevalent in government and modern academia. They take your money (via taxes), and require your child to attend their schools and study the curriculum they choose. In some states you can opt out of their program, but you don't get your money back.
But the government "cookie cutter" approach to education is an abysmal failure. Here's a quick explanation why.
Making a Bad Situation Worse
Almost everyone agrees that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is a nightmare created by the federal government. Congressional Republicans have tried for months to address the problems created by NCLB intrusive regulations.
But President Obama disagrees with their reforms and is taking matters into his own hands.
In "Obama Waives Congress Away," the Heritage Foundation explains why Obama's solution creates more problems than it solves.
Obama Waives Congress Away
From Heritage.org: “Congress hasn’t been able to do it, so I will.” With this bold statement, President Obama announced last Friday that he would unilaterally replace the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) with conditions-based waivers. Obama’s waiver strategy is an alarming misuse of executive power that undermines the separation of powers
"In and of itself, the use of waivers is not unconstitutional. Congress has the authority to create laws with provisions that allow the President to grant exceptions in certain circumstances. NCLB does, for instance, authorize the Secretary of Education to grant waivers to applicants that meet certain criteria. However, waivers are not written as blank checks of authority for the President to bypass Congress and enact new policy.
"In this case, the President is using waivers to rewrite the law. The Obama waivers go far beyond the measures allowed by NCLB. To receive a waiver, states must agree to implement a new set of goals and programs determined not by Congress, but by the White House.
"For months, President Obama and Congressional Republicans have disagreed on how to reform NCLB. There are major problems with the law’s intrusive regulations. But the Obama administration decided that the “do-nothing Congress” could not be trusted to act and so the President is acting without them.
"But co-opting the waiver power to craft a new laws designed in and implemented by the White House is a departure from the constitutional separation of powers.
"Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution grants Congress the power to craft the nation’s laws and to reform those laws when they do not work as planned. The executive is authorized to carry out the laws passed by Congress. But this can be quite bothersome for a President if Congress doesn’t see things his way.
"The President does have a proper constitutional role to play in the legislative process. The President has the power to veto or sign a bill. Furthermore, as permitted by the recommendation clause of Article 1, Section 3, the President may recommend legislation to Congress. This does not mean that the President can unilaterally create law as if by royal edict. To become law, legislation (even when recommended by the President) must first pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President. This process ensures that any law will be subject to deliberation by both the nationally elected President and the Congressmen who are more attuned to the particular interests and concerns of the local communities they represent.
"Both congressional Republicans and president Obama acknowledge that NCLB is a flawed law. While it may be tempting to seek a quick fix to this sprawling and unpopular program that avoids a partisan battle, misusing waivers to enact new policy without the consent of the elected representatives in Congress is not the way to address the issue."
Last night we received a recorded phone announcement from our public school telling us that President Obama will be speaking to all students Wednesday, and letting us know we can opt out of the speech if we wish.
The recording instructed us to go to Whitehouse.gov to get more information. I dutifully went to the site to read the speech, as I did last year and the year before. This year, information on the speech was nowhere to be found. Nor did it show up on any Google searches I tried.
So I took time to call my school and school district, but they couldn’t find information on the speech either. I guess parents aren't in the official Whitehouse loop any more.
This may be the first year I opt my kids out of the speech. Here are 5 reasons why:
1) Pretty Words Are Powerful
Armed with great speech writers and a teleprompter, President Obama can be a powerful persuader. As a first-term senator, he wrested the democratic presidential nomination from Hillary Clinton’s sophisticated political machine and won the hearts of millions of Americans with pretty words and poll-tested phrases.
A majority of people voted for him, notwithstanding readily available evidence that his words were not congruent with his record.
Now, almost three years into his presidency, many of his former supporters recognize that President Obama is not what they thought he would be.
But most students don’t follow politics. They are unaware of Obama’s attack on the Constitution, his usurpation of power, and the unprecedented path of destruction he is leaving behind.
2) Sweet Sounding Promises Persuade
Following the pattern of progressive politicians everywhere, President Obama uses your money to make promises he can’t keep. Almost always unrealistic, socialist policies can overwhelm and destroy our economy at this time when the country is already staggering under the burden of unprecedented debt.
Adults with more experience in the real world usually recognize political posturing and unrealistic promises, but kids may not. It feels good to believe that government can solve all our problems. But it’s a lie, and a ploy to gain unprecedented power for politicians and restrict individual liberty of the citizens.
3) Education Is Not The Role of the Federal Government
The Constitution clearly defines and limits the role of the federal government. The states are responsible for education, not the federal government.
In the 40 plus years that the federal government has been involved in education, the performance of students and the quality of education have decreased dramatically, while costs have skyrocketed.
Every time President Obama promises kids he will make sure they get a good education and says he will provide what they need, he creates an impression that directly conflicts with the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.
4) The Speech Creates an Opportunity for Political Activism
Most teachers have been educated in liberal institutions of education. Almost all teachers are members of the National Education Association (NEA), the official teacher’s union.
The NEA has already endorsed Obama in the 2012 election, even though the Republican nominee has not been chosen yet. No surprise there though. The NEA has never endorsed a Republican candidate for President.
As I remember, previous speeches President Obama gave were good. But future speeches of his, or of another president, may not be acceptable. And even if the President’s speech is fine, activist teachers can continue the discussion, infusing political propaganda into the classroom.
5) Precedent Is Being Set
These speeches are setting precedent. Public schools should not be a forum for government messages, or to favor one political party over another. Maybe it’s time for us to remind the President of the limits the Constitution places on him.
Congressman Ron Paul predicted the financial crisis long before other politicians saw it coming.
In this interview he answers questions about how the free market works and how the United States can get back to a sustainable monetary policy. He shares a lot of insights in 10 minutes.
A Discussion with Senator Mike Lee
Acid rain, the ozone hole, deforestation, global warming....Over the decades, scientists, environmentalists, and politicians intent on controlling human activity have predicted doomsday for earth's inhabitants.
Now that global warming data is becoming increasingly unpredictable and unpersuasive, advocates are calling this supposedly grave threat, "climate change."
That's a vague enough term that it's hard to refute, but are people really causing dangerous changes in the climate?
Scientists have their doubts. From the beginning, global warming data was questioned. By the time the following video was made in July 2008, over 30,000 scientists had officially expressed their concern. Their purpose was to bring greater scrutiny to what they believe is a concocted catastrophe.